Let me warn you straight on. No matter where you live.
Don’t buy or play lotteries through the mail. Don’t pay attention to unsolicited letters telling you that you’ve won an overseas or even Canadian Lottery. If you live in Europe the same thing holds. Watch out for unsolicited letters saying you’ve won something.
In fact, when something like this happens, call up your local lottery and report the scam. They have whole teams dedicated to rooting this kind of nonsense out.
Unfortunately, though, some people fall for it.
Alfred Frizziola, 66, of N.J. recently opened his mail and found a check for $4,875, the winnings of a sweepstakes he hadn’t even entered. Wisely, he didn’t cash the check.
“I knew something was fishy right away,” the retired New York City firefighter told the Asbury Park Press newspaper. “It was a scam, but I didn’t know how it worked.”
Here is how it works. The check is accompanied by a letter. In this case it was from the Universal Rewards & Trust in Toronto. It typically says that you have won $125,000 in the DE-Lotto North American Sweepstakes Lottery on Shoppers.The enclosed check is for the “payment” of applicable government taxes.
The winner is supposed to deposit the check, call a telephone number and then wire $2,875 to a “government tax agent.”
If you deposit the check, it will bounce days later. But the $2,800 you wired north is gone with the wind.
“This scam has been around for years and it preys primarily on the senior population and taps into greed and naivete.
These criminals are hard to trace. The scam artists use cell phones, change the name of companies on the fly, and work outside of the United States.
You are not going to win a contest you never entered and you should never have to pay to receive a prize,” said an expert in these kinds of scams. “People should know it is illegal for a United States citizen to play a foreign lottery anyway.
By the numbers:
Friday’s Mega Millions jackpot is worth $23 million.
Saturday’s Powerball jackpot is worth $15 million.